LEARNING CURVE

We know worryingly little about Donald Trump’s plans for American education

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

At the end of the month, a class-action lawsuit against president-elect Donald Trump’s former university—one of several—will go to trial. Media coverage and public allegations around the business have been plentiful.

But the noise of that aside, Americans don’t actually know much else about its next president’s plans for education, whether for children, teenagers, or college students. While his opponent Hillary Clinton made early childhood education and college tuition costs two key points in her platform, the most detail that Trump has offered on his plans for schooling are some offhand remarks about shuttering the entire US Department of Education. (Really.)

Here’s what we do know, from brief snippets during his campaign:

  • Trump strongly favors school choice—the idea of letting parents freely decide where (i.e. how) their kids are taught, rather than sending them to a school that is geographically assigned to them. He’s pledged to invest $20 million in a program that would let students pick the school they attend. The school-choice movement is a controversial one amongst parents and educators, though, as critics argue that it causes segregation and disadvantages lower-income minorities.
  • Trump wants to get rid of the Common Core, a set of educational standards that public schools have taught with for years. But it’s unclear whether he actually has the power to do so.
  • Trump dislikes teachers’ unions. (Teachers’ unions don’t feel too much love for him, either.)
  • Trump does not share Clinton’s idea of debt-free college—but does, according to his 100-day action plan, want to “make 2 to 4-year colleges more affordable.”
  • Vocational and technical education is likely to expand, which could allow students new alternatives to the traditional college path.
  • For-profit colleges—like his now-defunct university—may also thrive.

For parents and teachers right now, though, the most looming worry isn’t the uncertainty in Trump’s future education policies—it’s all the anxiety rattling around classrooms as a result of his election win.

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